Skate videos much like other forms of expression are often linked to the reality of the maker. When talking about trends in videos some video makers seem to have landed into territory that allows them to utilize the lost glory of industrial areas.
The title “Steel” makes obvious reference to the industries of yesteryear and while Adam Bos works his magic in the USA where Trump is trying to reignite the fire we see the same tendencies in German, Ruhr valley based companies like Obtain and Europe Co.
This video stands out a bit more because of an excellent music selection process that led to Adam using songs that add to the aesthetic instead of just using songs that work (which is hard enough already). Congrats on a great project and the Vimeo staff pick.
The description of the video “imac died while editing” leads us to believe there is more or there could have been more of where this came from.
We hope that those Apple geniuses can patch things back up because we need a steady Europe Co. flow.
Last Saturday marked the start of a new series of skateboard events throughout Europe, the Snipes Squad Up competition kicked off in Berlin.
From all over Germany, they came, groups of skaters ready to compete for the 10.000 prize purse. And to everybody’s excitement, it wasn’t just your usual suspects, Crews like Seoul2k and Europe Co. competed as well. Together with the locals from Märkisches Viertel Snipes managed to create an eclectic atmosphere that made for a good day of skating.
Timo Meiselbach definitely is one of the main characters in autobahn, the latest full length video by the Europe Co.. The fact that autobahn was rather sort of a mixtape without real full parts now opens up the possibility to additionally release something as such afterwards. Once again high-class editing by Niels Reimann.
Most people probably never heard Deo’s name before but the ones who do, know that he is somewhat of a character. When we were out in Essen working on our Europe Co. story, he stood out and sparked a friendship with our own #placemagpaule. Paul likes to talk and soon they started talking about life, with topics ranging from their day to day, near death experiences and future dreams these conversation provide us all with a look into Deo Katunga who is somewhat of an interesting cat.
You’re originally from Bulgaria. Please tell me about your journey that led you here.
I’ll try to make it short. Basically, I was completely over living in Bulgaria for a number of reasons. My initial plan was to try and win a bunch of the summer contests and dip out with the cash from them. That didn’t happen, plus I almost got killed on the way to one of ‘em. And at that point, I was like, “Damn I’m stuck for one more year.” And outta nowhere this dude that I kinda knew from the main spot we skate just came up to me and was like: “Yo, you wanna go to Germany?!” I told him I was hyped but didn’t have any cash. Then he said I could crash at his place till I figure some shit out and that he was going with a car so I could come free of charge. I was like, “Bro, for sure! When are we going?” And he said on Sunday. Keep in mind he tells me this on Thursday! So I pack all of my shit, ask my sponsors at the time if they could help out because I was going to Germany for a couple of months.
Who is supporting you over there?
Martin, the distributor of Polar in Bulgaria and owner of Amnesia skate shop, hooked me up with some boards. Mad love for that dude, the only shop owner in Bulgaria and anywhere that actually knows how to do shit correctly and treat his riders! Risto, the owner of Stinky Socks and distributor of Ashbury, gave me some cash, which is just one of the things that I can’t thank him enough for. Honestly, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be me as I am now. He and his brother are both my first-ever legit sponsors that over time became my brothers and showed me that it’s perfectly OK to be the weird self that I am.
So then you had enough money to leave for Germany?
Yes, at the end I got like €120-160 and three or four boards and packed up all my shit and just left. After some trouble and weird situations that I can’t go into because it’s gonna be too long, I ended up going from Berlin to my sister’s place in Düsseldorf where I stayed for a little over a year and then moved to Essen where I am now.
Currently, you are sharing an apartment with Niels in Essen and you already had a part in the last Europe Co. video. How did you guys meet?
Actually completely random. I was skating the park in D-dorf when Daniel [Ruski] was like: “Yo, let’s go meet up with the other dudes and skate street.” I didn’t know all of the others but was like: “Yeah, for sure.” And Niels was there with his cam – as a side note, that was the first time I ever saw a VX1000 live. And we skated and filmed and he was like: “Yo, would you hyped on filming a small part?” To which I was like: “Fuck yeah! Let’s get it!” And a month or two later he wrote me on Facebook, if I’d be hyped on going to Dortmund to film and I just fare-dodged it on the train there and, yeah, that’s how it started. But back then Europe [Co.] wasn’t Europe [Co.] yet. It was just an idea and a handful of motivated guys.
You have a really tough job that also almost killed you once. Explain your job and the story again.
So I work for “United Paid Slaves,” better known as UPS and I move heavy boxes for three to four hours every morning from 4 to 8AM. Gotta wake up at 2:45AM, get the train at 3:09AM, ride for one hour to Dusseldorf main station and then 30 minutes via bike to my job. From Monday to Friday. What happened was that one day the conveyor belt had stopped and I had to walk on this really thin thing to a high point and move some boxes that were jammed. So I fixed it and on the way down there are these hook type metal things and I slipped and fell with my stomach directly on one of those things and it went into me but I stopped it with my hands and pushed myself out and fell on the ground. The thing came out with a bit of skin and left me a sketchy scar but I’m all good now.
You own a diary that you take with you every day wherever you go. What does recording every little experience mean to you?
Yeah, I started it a while back to write down my steps towards getting where I’m going. The thing is, I don’t write down every little experience – just those that really influence and affect my view on different things and the world as a whole. Also, days and situations that make me feel something really strong – doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. And spontaneous mad good ideas that just have to be done.
You play the guitar. You sing along to any song stuck in your head all day. One could say you would literally die without headphones. You paint and write on your clothes, you even designed the grip-tape of the used board I gave you. Tell me about your relationship to art.
Well, ever since I can remember I’ve been drawing and creating all sorts of stuff. From a very young age, my parents thought me how to do a lot of things like sewing, drawing, playing music, carpentry, electrical engineering, and a bunch of other things. I was just always interested in making and learning as much stuff as possible and my parents saw that and helped me with any questions I had. Later it became an outlet for all the emotions I had in me and that’s also where the writing came from. And even later on, it turned into me really not enjoying being compared to anyone else. Everything I own will have something changed on it so it fits me perfectly.
What kind of modifications are we talking about?
Sometimes it’s something little like a patch or just some text written on it. Sometimes I’ll go as far as to completely change the color of different clothes and to whipstitch them. It’s also a way of inspiring other people and creating different thought processes in them. Make them go like: “Oh, shit that’s sick! I hadn’t thought about it.”
We talked a lot about anything and everything. I noticed you are a quite educated and receptive person. Describe your personal perspective on the world to me. What does living mean to you and what do you want from life?
Duuude, this is hard to answer without getting lost in thoughts. What I think of the world is that it’s a beautiful fucked up insanely huge place full of all sorts of people. Where you can always learn something, there’s always something new to experience, see or evolve in. Living and life as a whole is a completely different thing. It has a lot to do with time and the fact that it’s the only thing you can’t buy or get back in any way. Every second is precious and a person should use it to the fullest. Nowadays, people waste their lives taking the “safe” route going to school then to university studying something they don’t really like because there’s jobs in that field. They completely throw away their dreams – if they have any, to begin with – and then work to have money to live the next month to work to have money to live to the next month. And so on, and so on. Nine-to-five emotionless robotic bullshit. Hey, if that’s what you really enjoy doing and what makes you truly happy that’s cool. But, what if you’re 45 and get laid off from the only thing you know how to do because that’s what you’ve been doing your whole life? You’re stuck with no job having wasted half your life on shit you fucking hated doing and thinking, “I should have done this, I should have done that.”
I don’t want to be on my deathbed thinking I’ve wasted even a second of this amazing thing called life. And I sure as hell prefer completely failing in something I truly love doing than completely failing in something I hate. People should stop searching for what to study and what to work. They should begin searching for a dream and what they are really passionate about doing. That way they’ll be 100000% more happy and better at what they’re doing because it will be with complete passion and love for it.
When we talked about books, we noticed that we like kind of the same literature. What was the last book you found especially worth reading?
Some people would think I’m just joking, but the Kamasutra is a book that absolutely has to be read by anyone over 17. You would think it’s only like a sex guide or something but it really is not. Of course, there are things like that in it but it’s a really small part. If you want to understand a bit more about life and people’s behavior, I really recommend this one.
I really liked your thoughts about why you would want to become a pro skateboarder. Can you bring them together again?
Okay, there are about three points. First, I want to get to a point in skating where I go to a spot, look at it and think, “Damn this would look sick here!” And instead of just saying it and leaving actually being able to do it. Second, I want to be able to go to my parents one day and ask them: “What do you want? And regardless of the answer just say, “OK” and give it to them. They’ve given me everything without having anything and that’s something incredibly amazing that I can’t be thankful enough for. And I want to get there with skating because it’s legitimately the one thing I cannot live without and can’t have enough of. I skate absolutely every single day and always feel that I haven’t skated enough. I want to be able to skate as much as possible every day not do anything else like work and shit. And if skating can give me enough to live off, and I don’t mean millions, then I will be the happiest person ever. Third, when you get to a certain point in pro skateboarding popularity you have a huge amount of influence on others and how they do and see things. You are the one dictating fashion trends, what tricks are cool to do, and so on. Which gives you the opportunity and responsibility to change something in this world to have an impact on the minds of a lot of people, especially the younger ones. And it will be amazing when I get there. I will use being pro to inspire others to inspire themselves. I will be there to say and show others: “Yo, you can achieve whatever you want in life. You shouldn’t limit yourself in any way. I made it and I came from nowhere having nothing.” I just try to be a positive role model. I don’t drink, smoke or do whatever. I’m just extremely excited and thankful for every new day and every moment that I can skate, evolve, and live on this planet.
What are your plans for the near and far future?
First, finish filming for autobahn and get all that stuff done. There are also a lot of other things happening lately so fingers crossed you’ll see a bunch of really sick stuff soon enough. Hopefully, I will find some people as hyped as I am so we can create stuff that will get others hyped. As for the far future, I’m really interested in seeing how much time it takes me to get where I’m going and how much of a difference I will make in the end. And of course, skate my freakin’ ass off! I’m out bro, gotta go skate and can’t sit here anymore!
Since I wanted to write this article as authentic as possible, I decided to travel to the town of Essen in order to get to know every single one of the guys behind Europe Co. and also get an idea of their everyday lives. Essen is part of the so-called Ruhr Valley, a region situated in the west of Germany that consists of several larger cities located really close to one another; including towns such as Dortmund, Bochum, Duisburg and more. Thanks to their close proximity, you can easily switch between the cities in a minimal amount of time via train, which in turn unlocks an almost unlimited abundance of spots. The urban areas all have this rather modern architectural character with high-rise buildings, strict geometrical forms, and lots of concrete, steel, and glass. The cityscape tends to change at every street corner from snug to rough, from rich to poor, from vibrant green to gloomy gray. As I learned on my visit, this is exactly the environment the Europe Co. is rooted in.
The main man behind Europe Co. is Niels Reimann. He designs all the graphics for the clothes, films and edits all the clips, and takes care of the daily business. During my three-day visit, I stayed with him and Deo Katunga. The two share an apartment in Rüttenscheid, a really pleasant district of Essen with smaller houses, parks, cafes, and restaurants. What really struck me was the fact that Niels has been doing all the Europe Co. stuff and all the filming for only a mere one-and-a-half years at this point. Before that, he was producing beats and also released a cassette on a French label called Cindys Tapes. As we were sitting in Niels’ room watching some snippets of the upcoming Europe Co. video called autobahn – and Niels also showing me some of the music he made years ago – I understood that he has a certain intuition to know what fits well together and what doesn’t. This is actually reflected in all of his creative work.
What I really enjoyed about the Europe Co. guys is that they all seem to be one big family that I also quickly felt belonging to in a way. Most of the guys have been friends and skating together for many years already. It was also great to see how a motivated group of ten to 15 people would go out skating every day trying to get some clips. I personally have not filmed anything for almost three years now and suddenly got super hyped to try a guest line for their video as well. Unfortunately, I did not manage to roll away but still they brought back a feeling, which I thought I had lost some time ago – the joy of going out there and producing something. Which, of course, can be the most fun you can have with the right people around you. Speaking of people, almost everybody in the Europe gang goes by one or sometimes several nicknames, which made it really hard for me to learn all their names and sometimes almost impossible to follow their conversations. Luckily, Niels helped me out with this cheat sheet:
The G (Georg Anders), P Body (Philipp Bieronski), Pablo (André De Matos), Kicki (Yannick Skornik), Kaio (Kai Hillebrand), Pichl/Krishna/Skkinz (Matthias Pichl), Milky (Deo Katunga), The Coach (Timo Meiselbach), Bifi (Stefan Granitza), Kuyt (Florian Nass), Biber (Marius Paradies), Vman/Vitzke (Kevin Vietzke), Zyllek (Marcel Zylka), and Ching Chong (David Czichon).
Philipp Bieronski – Crooked
Don’t Fuck With The G!
On the day I arrived in Essen, Niels and Kuyt picked me up at the central station and we took the train to Dortmund – only half an hour in the same direction I came from – to meet with the rest of the gang. Nothing unusual really happened, until a character known as The G appeared at the spot. Without greeting anyone he went straight over to some guy and snapped his board, which resulted in a short verbal fight with heavy insults while everyone else was just watching the show. A few seconds later, The G introduced himself to me with a big friendly smile as if nothing of what just transpired had really happened. It turned out that the other guy had cheated him out of a serious amount of money, wrecked the door of his car, and did several other uncool things. Since then, The G snaps his board whenever he sees him at a spot. A little later, the other guy came back with his gang trying to raise a quarrel. But in the end, nothing happened because nobody really wants to have a fistfight with The G, I guess…
Deo Katunga – BS 360
Kevin Vietzke – Crooked
The First-Try Guy
The Europe Co. definitely, has a strong crew that truly never goes home unless somebody gets a serious trick. I was really surprised by how much footage they produced within the few days I stayed with them. But still, one guy stuck out the most during the time I have been with them: Deo Katunga. I don’t want to waste your time with all the empty phrases that could be doled out at this point. But just believe me, this kid definitely has something special going on. Whatever spot we went to, he was like: “Yo, first try!” And even if he never really got a trick first try, he still made almost every trick within the first five or six tries. So after he piqued my interest, I soon began to like this weirdo and we naturally started talking about his roots, life, and dreams. Which is, at least to my mind, reason enough to bring a little conversation I had with him into this article more on that later today.
Last Saturday Europe Co.‘s second VX full length called autobahn was premiered to a full house at Lobby Skate Shop in Hamburg. It was a boozy evening accompanied by nice DJ sets by Sprite Eyez and Shorty Banks playing all sorts of trap rap on real turntables, which ensured a hyped up mob before the premiere as well as a good aftershow party following. Find a little snapshot gallery below. And if you like to have it as authentic as possible put on Long Time by Ty Dolla $ign.
“Ruhrpott” is in the building! The Europe Co. just released their brandnew and highly anticipated full length called autobahn, which is absolutely one of the top videos this year. Niels Reimann’s creative mind did a great job and the soundtrack choices are on point as well. So be ready to get sparked!
Featuring Kevin Vietzke, Timo Meiselbach, Max Matthias, Matthias Pichl, Kai Hillebrand, Florian Nass, André De Matos, Philipp Bieronski, David Czichon, Georg Anders, Stefan Granitza, Marcel Zylka, Deo Katunga, Tim Thomas, Sasha Gro, Dennis Laaß, Filip Labovic and Danny Goodman.
Last week PLACE issue 58 landed in the mail. Tradition says when an issue is done it is time to host a party. This time it had to be Amsterdam. And that was our gut feeling talking. Trust your gut, people! So, when the time came, we linked up with the people from POP Trading Company & G’s to set the right atmosphere, it all turned out well and it was a great evening.
Special Thanks to Levi’s Skateboarding Collection.
Back in the old days and still relevant today, the handshake is a synonym for an agreement, which is not official until both hands are parted. In this issue, we shake hands with people behind five brands from all over the world that are, in our eyes, totally different from each other and all pretty much rookies in the game. To transport the vibe of each brand we needed to get real insights. So were spending time with the founders, their cliques, and social environments, which, once again, makes the work we do and thus our product very personal.
Bastiaan van Zadelhoff – BS 360 No Comply – Photo: Danny Sommerfeld
Pop – Low Country Aesthetics
“Now, if you hang out with this crew you might start believing that Pop is an acronym for People Owning Personality. Why? Because everybody has a strong personality and when they get together, everything gets amplified. It brought out the best in all of us and everyday was full of laughter mixed with “real talk” type of conversations…”
Photo: Danny Sommerfeld
Hotel Blue – A Chat with Nick von Werssowetz
“Sometimes, a few missed connections can still lead where you need to be. The story behind this interview started when I got a text from a friend who was out in Montreal at the time. He sent me a photo of him together with Ayo (Alex O’Donahoel), who unfortunately happened to leave Montreal right before we got there. But as it turned out, Ayo sent a DM letting me know he would be in NYC for the next few days. So we connected when we got to the Big Apple…”
Photo: Conny Mirbach
Alex Olson – Leave a Message
“That is what I heard when I tried to call (917) 692-2706, which we all know is the full phone number behind Alex Olson’s enigmatic board brand. I didn’t leave a message but I wanted to. Just to see if anybody would listen to what I had to say and maybe “they” would even call back…”
Photo: Laura Kaczmarek
Europe Co. – A Ruhr Valley Continent
“The urban areas all have this rather modern architectural character with high-rise buildings, strict geometrical forms, and lots of concrete, steel, and glass. The cityscape tends to change at every street corner from snug to rough, from rich to poor, from vibrant green to gloomy grey. As I learned on my visit, this is exactly the environment the Europe Co. is rooted in.”
Remy Taveira – Fs Wallride – Photo: Maxime Verret
Öctagon – Die Maschine
Following the Öctagon members on a visual adventure through the greatest machinery of humankind, the city.
The brand new PLACE issue 58 “The Handshake” will be available through skateshops, selected retailers and newsstands – some of the shops got the issue already, just ask!
It seems like a couple of Germans found a cheap Groupon travel deal, first the Europe Co. guys and now a Paris clip by Paul Herrmann.
The clip features Anton Jäger and Johannes Schirrmeister, the latter seemed to be out there the longest because he managed to pop up in both the videos. Herrmann’s clip itself has a nice and relaxed vibe, just what you need to start off the week.
I guess if you call your company Europe Co. you can’t just hang out in Germany, right? A possible motivation for the guys to make this little trip to the French capital. Even though the footy in this clip is good, we are pretty sure that the best of the best was saved for Europe’s upcoming release Autobahn, so check the vibe and get ready for their next big project.